Rhythm & Views

Sugar Ray

Sugar Ray titled its last album 14:59, a sly nod to Andy Warhol's famous catchphrase, to acknowledge its critics' prediction of when its success would end. The clock is definitely reading 15:01 right now. The group's self-titled fourth album takes it in a new direction. To be honest, the songs are still not hard-hitting rock tracks that will be eternally etched in the mind of the listener, but memories will linger enough to ensure respect, a positive future and huge record sales.

"Under the Sun," with its memories of "making out in the sand" while the radio blasts Culture Club, the Clash and Men Without Hats, gets the point across that this is the perfect music for the summer. Producer Don Gilmore, who has already worked magic for Eve 6 and Lit, was wise to bring out the rock roots in Mark McGrath and his boys in "Answer the Phone," "Sorry Now" and the almost-too-good-to-be-true masterpiece "Disasterpiece," which evokes rock acts like the Black Crowes.

The one regret stemming from Sugar's transition to a group with a clear focus on rock is the absence of the talented DJ Homicide. His considerable talents helped the group become one of the first successful rap-rock hybrids long before Fred Durst was screaming about "Faith."

The guys obviously still have a lot of doubts, because two tracks--the first hit single, "When It's Over," and "Ours"--were recorded after the fact by their previous producer, David Kahne. While there's nothing wrong with the songs, absolutely nothing distinguishes them from the previous album. If Sugar Ray's members learn to have a little more faith in their abilities as musicians and less in what previously worked, their clock will keep ticking.

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